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My friend Don Busby has a foundation supporting the fight against ALS here in central Texas and Austin. They have an upcoming event Flavors of the Town 2009

flavorsofthetown-org Picture 1THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17
6-9pm

Help raise awareness & funds to support the fight against ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease

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My friend Shelton is organizing a pub crawl this Saturday to raise awareness around human trafficking issues here in Austin. Here’s a snippet from the site:

coffee_coaster

Show up and help distribute coasters that tell the story of modern day slavery into bars, coffee shops and cafes in Austin.

This will be the first a several events in Austin and across the state.  Please join us at BookPeople, 3rd Floor, on Saturday, August 8. At 4:00pm.  Here’s the plan, we want you and your friends to come and enjoy an evening out, stopping at several different places over a few hours.  Well…with one small difference, you will be asking establishments owners or managers to “host” the coaster campaign.  “Host” just means the bar, coffee shop or café will take the coasters and put them out for patrons to use and read.  We will have sign up sheets for you to take down the information of establishments you visit.  On August 8th we will gather up at 4:00pm on the 3rd floor at BookPeople (6th & Lamar) get instructions on which establishments in which parts of town to hit and be sent out.

If you”d like to find out more, here is more info at What’s Your Response?

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Austin Art, originally uploaded by carlmc.

Austinites…have you been here? If you have you recognize the place. Tell me where it is and what you did with this piece? My kids love this place, we visit often and have as much fun watching others when the encounter this for the first time.

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Bailey Brings It Home, originally uploaded by carlmc.

OK, so he’s not the fastest cat in 4th grade. The picture is a little misleading. Notice lanes 1 and 2 are not pictured here. That’s because they are hauling ass down the track about 5-10 yards in front. Bailey came in a very respectable 3rd place.

Sprinting is not his gift, he’s plenty fast alright. Third fastest in your age group ain’t bad, but it isn’t what Bailey is really about. But, it’s still fun to see him having fun, pushing himself, trying hard, and learning the joy of competition. Notice the look on the little boy to Bailey’s left, nothing but pure joy on his face. He’s losing, but he’s really not losing.

Bailey you may not totally comprehend right now how proud I am of you, but someday when you have kids you will. I am proud not because you are pretty fast; instead I’m proud that you gave your best, and lived the moment.

“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms….” Henry David Thoreau

P.S. Notice the kids cheering in the background. They probably didn’t even know who was running and if they did they didn’t really care who won. They were rooting and cheering because that’s what kids do.

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sam and steven @ sxsw 2009

Last night went to SXSW Student Film Contest Screening and saw the future of filmmaking. Besides the obsession with death and violence (it’s a teen thing) there were some amazing skills on display. Everything from stop motion animation, to mockumentary, to Cloverfield like narratives, to arthouse films.

Two of my students Sam and Steven had their movie “The Transcendence of Gabriel” screen. Sam has “it”, the eye for storytelling via film that you can’t learn. Steven is an amazing actor who can emote a tremendous range of emotions without saying a word.

I can’t wait to see what all these kids produce 10-15 years from now.

Here is a link to some pics from last night.

My friend Dean Smith started Urban Connection Austin which is focused on enabling communities to rebuild themselves, not to rely on charity, not to rely on government, but instead to learn how to empower the members of that community. Education is key to making people stronger, learning how to use government services, opening communication channels with businesses, working alongside faith communities, schools, and neighborhood associations to build a sense of ‘we’.

Here is an article in Community Impact Newspaper about Urban Connection Austin that mentions what I think is a key to success for these types of ministries. That is the ability for faith communities to be humble enough to say to themselves, to their people, “We are not the solution to the problems of this neighborhood.” We do not need to own the solution, we simply need to agree that love is needed in this area. When we decide to love, we will decide to ask of each other, to those in the community, and to God, “How can we help?”. And, then we will be quiet and listen…

[clearspring_widget title=”Animoto.com” wid=”46928cc51133af17″ pid=”492030c291da3319″ width=”432″ height=”260″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”] Took these pics in early spring 2008. It’s fun to remember days like these when the kids are still young enough to show immense joy in the simple discoveries of a day in the park.

I took these photos on the last day of baseball at Concordia before they tore it all down. And took a little piece of my heart with it.

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Today the faith community we call home, made a bold political statement. We agreed to center our existence in this politically and economically charged culture of America upon the love that is God. And, we put it in writing, signed it, and will deliver to the President (whoever that may be), and to some of the other powers that be.

Each week we profess some version or variation of Mark 12:28-31

“Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. ‘The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Today, we finished our journey through the 10 commandments of the pledge that student protesters agreed to abide in Birmingham, AL in 1963, and we decided to not only proclaim our statement for love, we decided to sign it and deliver it.

We have decided as a community of faith to resist the temptations of fear and greed.
“The hallmark of political nihilism is the public appeal to fear and greed, and too much of American politics today as been reduced to such vulgar appeals.” —Cornel West

Instead we have chosen to make a political statement that does not succumb to fear, greed, nor power.

Instead we have chose to make a political statement that does profess God’s love is at the center of who we proclaim to be and the goal we will continue to seek.

Just as MLK and the movement for racial justice did in the sixties, we seek to learn what is our truest expression of God’s love in this time and place. And, for this we rely on those who came before us just as MLK did. For a little background on what I’m referring, read the following from http://www.nathanielturner.com/

While others viewed nonviolence as only one of the alternatives, for Martin Luther King, Jr., it was “only road to freedom.” In September 1948 while a student at Crozer Theological: Seminary, he heard Dr. A.J. Muste and Dr. Mordecai W. Johnson preach of the life and teaching of Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of Indian independence. Since his entrance at Crozer, Martin had begun a serious quest for a way to eliminate economic and social evil.

He began a prolonged study of the writings of Gandhi and became a convert to the Gandhian concept of satyagraha (truth-force or love-force) and atmbal (soul-force). King described his conversion thusly:

“As I delved deeper into the philosophy of Gandhi, my skepticism concerning the power of love gradually diminished, and I came to see for the first time that the Christian doctrine of love, operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence, is one of the most potent weapons available to an oppressed people in their struggle for freedom. At that time, however, I acquired only an intellectual understanding and appreciation of the position, and I had no firm determination to organize it in a socially effective situation.” [Strength To Love, p. 151]

One year later, Dr. King became involved in a crisis in which the philosophy of nonviolent resistance could be applied. On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old seamstress was arrested because she refused to give her bus seat to a white man.

When the Black people of Montgomery decided that it was “more honorable to walk the streets in dignity than to ride the buses in humiliation,” they called on Dr. King to be their spokesman and leader of the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). The association began a nonviolent boycott of Montgomery’s transit system.

From the beginning a basic philosophy guided the movement. This guiding principle has since been referred to variously as nonviolent resistance, noncooperation, and passive resistance. But in the first days of the protest none of these expressions was mentioned; the phrase most often heard was “Christian love.” It was the Sermon on the Mount, rather than a doctrine of passive resistance, that initially inspired the Negroes of Montgomery to dignified social action. It was Jesus of Nazareth that stirred the Negroes to protest with the creative weapon of love.…

Nonviolent resistance … emerged as the technique of the movement, while love stood as the regulating ideal. In other words, Christ furnished the spirit and motivation, while Gandhi furnished the method. [Stride Toward Freedom, pp. 84–85]

By 1963 the following pledge was being signed by volunteers for sit-in demonstrations in the restaurants of Birmingham:

I hereby pledge myself—my person and body—to nonviolent movement. Therefore I will keep the following ten commandments:

1. MEDITATE daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.

2. REMEMBER always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation—not victory.

3. WALK AND TALK in the manner of love, for God is love.

4. PRAY daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.

5. SACRIFICE personal wishes in order that all men might be free.

6. OBSERVE with both friend and for the ordinary rules of courtesy.

7. SEEK to perform regular service for others and for the world.

8. REFRAIN from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.

9. STRIVE to be in good spiritual and bodily health.

10. FOLLOW the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.

I sign this pledge, having seriously considered what I do and with the determination and will to persevere.

Name

Address

Phone

Nearest Relative

Address

Besides demonstrations, I could also help the movement by:

(Circle the proper items)

Run errands, Drive my car, Fix food for volunteers, Clerical work, Make phone calls, Answer phones, Mimeograph, Type, Print signs, Distribute leaflets.

Alabama Christian Movement For Human Rights

Birmingham Affiliate of S.C.L.C.

505½ North 17th Street

F.L. Shuttesworth, President

Today, we seek to become part of this satyagraha, this “truth force” that proclaims at its core, our existence is due to love, and this creator of love is an unstoppable force.

In a previous post https://simplegestures.wordpress.com/2007/07/01/my-sock-puppet-has-a-hole-in-the-toe/ from July of 2007 I expressed my concerns and fears about where my family belonged. We were considering moving closer to downtown Austin, away from the ‘burbs where Lane & I grew up…

I am torn between the people and place I love and where I live and work. I feel called, I feel a reason for devoting my life, my family to downtown Austin and the university. But, I live 20+ miles away in Cedar Park and work out west of town near the lake. I’ve been reading “Breaking the Missional Code” and it’s a little formulaic for my tastes. For example, when it brings up the need to love the people to which you want to minister, it says you must learn to love the people first. I agree, but I’m asking the question, “Am I following God’s will if I’m forcing myself to learn to love a people?” I have nothing against the people of Cedar Park and think I could learn to love them and to love what they love, but as the Bass article points out I have a real struggle with this “hyper-individuality” and consumerism that seeps into the core of life here in the suburbs. It effects me just as much as it does my neighbors.

So, what do I do? Do I follow my heart and devote myself fully to the people of downtown and the university area? At what cost? I so long for the mess of life lived in tight community with the other and don’t know where to throw my hat.

The decision was made for us, we couldn’t sell our house and so we were “stuck” in the ‘burbs. Life is curious in the ways we’re forced through sometimes unwanted, or even unpleasant seasons to be recreated. That’s one of the things I love about my live, that I’ve been witness to my own rebirth in so many ways.

Tonight…
I’m sitting on my front porch watching the children run up and down the sidewalk in eager anticipation of tonight’s Halloween party.
I’m listening to the laughter of the moms as they prepare the haunted house.

Time marches on like the dutiful soldier, and I grow older and hopefully the edges are beginning to soften. It is in these moments of life settling into a beautiful rhythm that I feel most alive.

I

realize

the

noise

surrounding

me

is

what

I

long

to

hear.

We are in this together, each family striving to love our kids and each other as best we know how. It is messy, it’s jilted and sometimes awkward…which means it must be real. Once again, I have been forced into another rebirth, and another new season of life. Once again, God has given me what I desire, but it’s done in His way, not mine. I am thankful and blessed…